Accessibility links

Breaking News

Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 16, 2003

16 April 2003
Shaimiev Recalls Federation Council Representative...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev announced on 9 April that he will recall ahead of time his representative to the Federation Council, Refget Altynbaev, who also heads the Local Self-Government Committee, and replace him with presidential adviser on socioeconomic issues Filze Khemidullin, Tatarinform reported the same day. Shaimiev submitted a corresponding decree to the Tatar State Council and proposed the parliament consider the issue on 11 April. The decision has to be passed by two-thirds of deputies.

Altynbaev was appointed Federation Council senator in 2001 as compensation for refusing to run for the Tatar presidency and is being dismissed because Shaimiev, a Unified Russia co-chairman, is displeased by Altynbaev's activity as co-chairman of the Party of Life, "Kommersant" commented on 10 April. Recently, saying Altynbaev's name on local television was taboo and the Tatar presidential administration created obstacles for him to arrange public meetings, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 9 April. By dismissing Altynbaev, Shaimiev removed the last threads of influence on him and turned him into an opposition leader with good contacts at the federal level, the daily commented.

...As Party Of Life Tatar Branch Leader Censures Shaimiev
In an article published in "Vechernyaya Kazan" on 8 April, political science professor Midkhet Faruqshin, co-chairman of the Party of Life in Tatarstan, sharply criticized Shaimiev for his "deception of the people" and inability to implement what he promised as Unified Russia co-chairman -- to prevent the increase in energy prices, to raise salaries for state employees, and to restructure debts of agricultural manufacturers. Faruqshin said it is Shaimiev, not the Cabinet of Ministers, who is in fact responsible for the recent 66 percent increase in energy prices in Tatarstan, which he said violates federal law.

Kazan Delegation Visits United States
A presentation on Kazan in the American-Russian Business Council devoted to the Tatar capital's upcoming millennium and bilateral cooperation was held during a visit of a Kazan delegation headed by Mayor Kamil Iskhakov to the United States on 2-5 April, reported on 7 April, citing Tatarstan's permanent representation to the U.S. The delegation held talks with World Bank acting Vice President and Director of Operations for Europe and Central Asia Shigeo Katsu, and the bank's Russian Directorate Executive Director Aleksei Kvasov on Kazan's opportunities to obtain a new loan from the bank to prepare for the millennium. The delegation also met with officials in the U.S. Commerce Department and the Smithsonian Institute to negotiate cooperation during preparations for Kazan's jubilee.

WBRD Gives Kazan $200 Million Credit
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov said on 9 April that the World Bank for Reconstruction and Development (WBRD) confirmed that it will provide a $200 million loan to the Kazan administration for implementation of the program on rehabilitation of city environment, reported the same day. Iskhakov, who returned on 9 April from a visit to the United States, said the funds will be spent on reforming Kazan's housing and municipal-services sector. Financial conditions of the credit are to be discussed during a visit of WBRD officials to Kazan scheduled for 16 April, Iskhakov said.

Tatarstan Moves Proposals To Russian Nationalities-Policy Concept
In an interview with "Vremya i dengi" on 9 April, the chairman of the State Council Committee on Science, Education, Culture, and National Issues, Razil Weliev, spoke about Tatarstan's proposals to the Russian state-nationalities-policy concept. The proposals were developed by a commission comprising scholars, deputies, and representatives of the presidential administration in response to an appeal by Russian Minister without portfolio in charge of nationalities policy Vladimir Zorin, who six weeks ago asked Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev to provide such a document. The commission suggested that a chamber of nationalities be formed in the Russian Federal Assembly, in which all Russia's peoples or ethnic groups have one representative; a post of Russian vice president in charge of nationalities policy be established; a government commission responsible for the implementation of the concept be revived; and similar bodies be formed in federal ministries and federation subjects. The commission proposed setting up a House of Peoples of Russia in Moscow, to adopt federal laws on principles of state nationalities policy in Russia and on commissioner on peoples' rights, to develop federal and regional programs on preventing and development of traditional forms of management, national languages, and support of compatriots abroad.

Weliev added that no subsidies are provided in Russia for implementation of the law on national-cultural autonomies. In Tatarstan, however, 2 million rubles were allocated for the support of the Association of National Cultural Communities that unites some 30 of Tatarstan's national communities. In Kazan, 1 percent of the budget is spent on the implementation of the Tatar law on state languages.

Survey Says: Tatars Prefer Shaimiev, Communists
According to a March survey held by the State Council public-opinion service throughout Tatarstan, 76 percent of those questioned trust Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, 65 percent State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin, and 49 percent Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov. Some 65 percent believe the situation in Tatarstan is "good and calm," while 32 percent think the situation in Russia is the same. Some 37 percent of respondents said democratic, honest, and open elections in Russia are impossible. The Communist Party has the highest rating of 28 percent, followed by the Tatarstan-New Century movement with 26.1 percent, and Unified Russia with 25.9 percent, the "Zvezda Povolzhya" weekly reported on 10 April. Yabloko, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and the Party of Life are received support of 11, 7, and 2.6 percent, respectively.

One In Three Draftees Unfit For Military Service
Tatar Military Commissioner Major General Rim Mustaev told a briefing in the Cabinet of Ministers on 8 April that 1,122 draft-age youths in Tatarstan avoided military service in 2002, eight soldiers deserted from their units, and another eight servicemen died during army service, reported the same day. A total of 8,000 residents were called up the previous year, with some 3,000 draft dodgers charged. During the 2002 call-up, 27.7 percent of draftees were declared unfit for service and 242 people, or 2 percent of draft-age youths, were diagnosed as HIV-infected, while in 2000 not a single HIV-carrier was registered among draftees. Fifteen soldiers were freed from service ahead of time in 2002 they had been called up despite health deferments. Of Tatarstan's some 30,000 draft-age youths, the majority have education, family, or health deferments. Thirty-five draftees stated their desire for alternative civil service, Mustaev said, adding alternative service will be launched in January 2004.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Prosecutor's Office Warns Tajetdin After Controversial Statement
Deputy presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Valentin Stepankov, visiting Ufa on 4 April, said that the republic's prosecutor's office "is now considering the ways of reacting to the statement" by Central Muslim Religious Board head Telget Tajetdin, who during a 3 April antiwar demonstration in Ufa declared jihad against the anti-Iraq coalition countries, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day.

He said that "in the current political situation any emotionally driven statements only enflame the situation in Russia.... It's one thing when a mufti urges people to provide humanitarian aid to Iraq and another when he calls for collecting arms and taking part in combat actions, which is on the brink of a criminal offense."

Also on 4 April, RosBalt cited the Bashkir Prosecutor's Office as confirming that Prosecutor Florid Baikov issued a warning to Tajetdin, saying that his statement violated the federal law on extremist activities and mentioning the possible legal consequences of this violation.

Religious Leaders' Council Condemns Tajetdin's Declaration Of Jihad Against America
Russia's Interconfessional Council of Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist leaders convened on 9 April in Moscow to adopt a resolution on joint provision of humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq, Interfax reported the same day. The council also approved the Russian government's initiative of creating "humanitarian corridors for evacuating children and women" from the combat zones of the Iraqi conflict.

The religious leaders reportedly discussed the recent statement by Telget Tajetdin, head of the Ufa-based Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate (TsDUM), who during a 3 April antiwar demonstration in Ufa declared a jihad against the anti-Iraq coalition countries (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4, 7 and 8 April 2003). In an official statement, the council ruled that the war in Iraq was not "a clash between Muslims and representatives of other religions," while "the use of religious symbols and terms for escalating the conflict and for involving new participants, especially in Russia, is unacceptable."

Chief FSB Official In Bashkortostan Cites Ongoing Intelligence Wars
During the 4 April celebrations of the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the State Security Service in Bashkortostan, local Federal Security Service (FSB) branch head Igor Chernokov said that his organization resumed focus on "counteracting the efforts of foreign intelligence, terrorism, and organized crime enforcement, as well as monitoring the lawfulness of economic reforms-related procedures," such as privatization of local industries, RosBalt reported on 4 April.

He cited the "enormous interest of foreign intelligence in Bashkortostan, especially the Turkish special services." Chernokov added, "In 2002, dozens of Turkish citizens were expelled from Russia...including the followers of untraditional Islam, members of the radical and nationalist sects Suleymanci and Nurcular" for violating its laws on the territory of Bashkortostan.

Central Muslim Board Disavows Leader's Declaration Of Jihad Against America...
Russia's Central Muslim Religious Board (TsDUM) in a 7 April statement backed off from statements attributed to board Chairman Telget Tajetdin States (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 7 April 2003), Interfax reported the same day. The statement said that "all of the speculation and concoctions around peaceful and humanitarian initiatives of Russia's TsDUM represent a provocation, black public relations [techniques], blasphemy, and an attempt to achieve personal ambitions and profit." The statement expressed "full support" for Russian President Vladimir Putin's policies on the Iraq crisis according to "international law and the UN Charter." The statement also urged Muslims to refrain from "illegal actions, meetings, and demonstrations" and "attend God's temples for praying for peace in Iraq."

The statement also called for a boycott of films from countries in the "anti-Iraqi coalition, which are blasphemous and humiliating for our national dignity." TsDUM also declared that it is now collecting donations for "ensuring humanitarian aid to the suffering people of Iraq."

Government Sued For January Rent Increase
Ufa resident Yevgenii Kareev sued Bashkortostan's government for the illegal hike of heating and electricity tariffs imposed in January, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 8 April. Kareev appealed to Bashkortostan's Supreme Court claiming that the republic's cabinet presented no figures to justify the 14 percent hike, as required by Article 57 of the Russian Constitution and the federal law on housing policy.

In February, Kareev sued the Russian and Bashkir governments for violating his right of free movement by blocking the streets for VIP motorcades (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 6 February 2003, "Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 21 and 24 March 2003).

Finance Ministry Pushes Revision Of Bashkortostan's Economic-Development Program
According to "Vremya novostei" on 10 April, the federal budget cuts proposed by Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin for 2003 include the revision if social and economic development programs of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan. The programs, adopted in 2002, provide for direct federal subsidies to the republics for the next several years to boost their economic development and, as a result, increasing tax revenues.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Federal Government Said Behind Extension Of Mayak License
Russian Socioecological Union representative Vladimir Slivnyak told on 10 April that the Russian State Atomic Supervision Committee, Gosatomnadzor, issued a license for the Mayak plant for processing spent nuclear fuel on 5 March under strong pressure from the Russian government, which promotes implementation of the program on imports of spent nuclear fuel to Russia. Previously, the committee had refused the plant such a license, arguing that the facility pollutes local reservoirs with radioactive waste (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 17 January 2003). The website said Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov warned the Gosatomnadzor leadership that it may be dismissed if it refused a license to Mayak.

According to the environmental organization Ecological Defense, the plant will continue dumping radioactive waste into Karachai Lake and the Techa River until 2008, when a law banning it will come into force. Mayak has been dumping radioactive waste into local reservoirs for 50 years. Greenpeace claims that radioactivity in Karachai Lake exceeds the normal level by a factor of 350,000.

Samara Authorities Seek New Owner For Aviakor To Promote Aircraft Production
The Samara aviation plant Aviakor will be sold in late April, reported on 8 April, citing the Samara State Television and Radio Company. Aviakor is currently owned by the Bazovyi Element company. Samara Oblast Industry Department head Vladimir Doronin said the ownership was inefficient, as the plant was involved in metallurgy, not aircraft production. Oblast authorities believe the change in ownership will help finish work on the project to design the An-140, which was stopped due to a lack of financing. The project needs $6 million in investment.

Meanwhile, Aviakor workers, who have not been paid since January, on 14 April held a demonstration in front of the plant management office, reported the same day, citing the Orion Television and Radio Company. No one from management responded to the protesters, the report said.

GM-AvtoVAZ Dissatisfied With AvtoVAZ Parts
The Tolyatti GM-AvtoVAZ joint venture plans to refuse to purchase spare parts for its Chevrolet-Niva jeep from AvtoVAZ because of their inferior quality and to establish its own provider network by July, "Kommersant" reported on 15 April. Under the June 2001 contract establishing the joint venture, AvtoVAZ was supposed to provide spare parts for the first 20,000 Chevrolet-Niva vehicles. GM-AvtoVAZ issued its first vehicles at a price of $8,500 last fall and plans to assemble 35,000 jeeps in 2003.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Residents Protest Construction Of Chemical Plant
On 12 April, about 1,500 people staged a demonstration in Krasnoufimsk, Sverdlovsk Oblast, to protest construction of a monazite-concentrate-processing plant, reported the same day. The project to utilize the radioactive substance was developed by the U.S. company Channel Construction World Wide Ltd. after storehouses for keeping the concentrate constructed in Krasnoufimsk Raion 50 years ago began to fall apart. The $76 million project includes building two plants in Sverdlovsk Oblast, in Krasnoufimsk and Zarechnyi. Krasnoufimsk residents, however, oppose the project, which, they believe will damage their health. Heads of the state Uralmonazite and Uralmonazittekhno companies commented on 14 April on the public protest campaign, saying utilization of the radioactive substance can be made only at the plant to be built. They also said the state environmental examination confirmed that the production will be harmless for the environment and population.

Turkish Company To Build Brewery In Yekaterinburg
The Turkish company Efes Beverage Group plans to construct a brewery in Yekaterinburg, UralNEP reported on 14 April, citing Efes President Mukhrat Kent. Kent said the company has purchased land in Yekaterinburg and is also negotiating purchase of the Ufa Amstar brewery. The company plans to invest $150 million in Russia in the next three years.

Tyumen TV Bosses Oppose Spread Of Violence, Pornography On TV
Heads of Tyumen television and radio companies issued a joint statement to protest against violence and pornography on television, "Tyumenskaya linia" reported on 9 April. Region-Tyumen State Television and Radio Company Vice President Vladimir Bityukov said electronic media receive a lot of letters from TV viewers filled with indignation at such shows. The appeal notes that it is federal, not local, television channels that are mainly responsible.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova